The Strangest Secret Review: Earl Nightingale’s Success Manual

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In 1956, Earl Nightingale recorded an audio called “The Strangest Secret.” The small group of salesmen Earl recorded the audio for enjoyed it so much that they requested copies to share with their family and friends. The demand didn’t stop there. Soon after that, over a million copies were sold based on word of mouth.The-Strangest-Secret-book-cover

“The Strangest Secret” is widely considered to be the start of what is now the ever-expanding and extremely wide-reaching personal development/self-help industry. That’s quite the accomplishment for an audio less than 40 minutes long!

I’ve listened to the audio many times and read the book version multiple times, too. I’ll share some highlights of Earl Nightingale’s success manual in this review of “The Strangest Secret.”

What Is Success?

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” – Earl Nightingale

If you’re working toward a goal or goals of your choosing and you know where you’re going, then you’re a success. It’s that simple.

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” – Earl Nightingale

What Is the Strangest Secret?

The strangest secret is contained in only six words.

“We become what we think about.” – Earl Nightingale

Earl calls those six words “the key to success and failure.” If you think positive thoughts, you get success. If you think negative thoughts, you get failure. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions lead to the results we get.

“A person who is thinking about a concrete and worthwhile goal is going to reach it because that’s what he is thinking about, and we become what we think about. … Work steadily (toward) your goal, and it will become a reality. … Think about your goal in a relaxed way. Picture yourself … as having already achieved this goal. See yourself doing the things … you will be doing when you’ve reached your goal.” – Earl Nightingale

The Price of Success

Success comes at a cost, and those who are willing to pay the price are the ones who succeed.

Earl states that the price of success is many things, and they are:

  1. Understand that you become what you think about.
  2. Use your imagination.
  3. Concentrate on your goal(s) daily.
  4. Save 10% or more of what you earn.
  5. Take action on your goal(s).

Earl also shares six steps for success, which psychiatrist David Fink, M.D., wrote.

  1. Set a definite goal.
  2. Quit running yourself down.
  3. Think of all the reasons you can succeed.
  4. Look back to your childhood and discover where you first thought you couldn’t succeed.
  5. Write a description of the person you’d like to be.
  6. Act as the successful person you’ve (chosen) to be.

You get to pay the price for success as you apply your 30-day experiment.

Your 30-Day Experiment

“Write on a card what … you want more than anything else. … Make sure it is a single goal and clearly defined. … Look at it several times a day. Think about it in a cheerful, relaxed, positive way.” – Earl Nightingale

Whenever you have a negative thought, think of your positive, worthwhile goal instead.

“For 30 days, you must take control of your mind. It will think only about what you permit it to think. Each day, for this 30-day test, do more than you have to do. In addition to maintaining a cheerful, positive outlook, give of yourself more than you’ve ever done before. … Don’t concern yourself too much with how you’re going to achieve your goal. … All you have to do is know WHERE you’re going. The answers will come to you of their own accord.” – Earl Nightingale

Here’s what might be the most difficult part of the 30-day experiment. If you’re thinking too negatively and not having enough control over your thoughts, start over again and go 30 more days. Keep starting over again if you have to. Eventually, you’ll build the habit of constantly thinking positively.

I’ve had to start my 30-day experiment over again multiple times. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy.

“(Remember) the card. It is vitally important as you begin this new way of living. On one side of the card, write your goal, whatever it may be.” – Earl Nightingale

On the other side of the card, write the quote, “Ask, and it shall be given. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened.”

Also, read instructional and inspiring books during your 30-day experiment. Keep your inspiration high.

“Nothing great was ever accomplished without inspiration.”- Earl Nightingale

Remind yourself regularly of what you must do during your 30-day experiment, and have at least one person you can rely on to help keep you accountable as you create your new habit of positive thinking and positive action.

“The only way to earn money is by providing people with services or products which are needed and useful. … Success is not the result of making money. Making money is the result of success, (which) is (directly proportional) to our service. … We (must) be of service first before we can expect money. Don’t concern yourself with the money. Be of service. Build. Work. Dream. Create. Do this, and you’ll find that there is no limit to the prosperity and abundance that will come to you.” – Earl Nightingale

Earl recommends that you do your 30-day experiment and then keep repeating it.

“Each time, it will become more a part of you until you wonder how you could ever have lived any other way. … Start today. You have nothing to lose, but you have a life to win.” – Earl Nightingale


You become what you think about. It is always happening, whether you want it to or not. So, either you become successful by thinking positive thoughts or experience failure by thinking negative thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions lead to results. You can choose what those results are every second of your life. And it all starts with what you think about.The-Strangest-Secret-book-cover

Countless people have benefitted from Earl Nightingale’s message in “The Strangest Secret,” either directly or indirectly. Now it’s your turn. Apply the 30-day experiment and repeat it for the rest of your life.

“Pay the price by becoming the person you want to become. It’s not nearly as difficult as living unsuccessfully.” – Earl Nightingale

There is more contained in “The Strangest Secret” than what I’ve shared here. It is an excellent, relevant, timely, and necessary message. And it’s a message I’ve returned to many times. I find value in “The Strangest Secret” whenever I listen to or read it. And I suspect you will, too.

Buy “The Strangest Secret,” apply the 30-day experiment, and let me know your results in the comments section below.

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Until next time,

James Barnett

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